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A totally frivolous topic: Horse portrait photography. What does one wear?

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    A totally frivolous topic: Horse portrait photography. What does one wear?

    The horse will wear his best formal attire, meaning his mane will be brushed onto one side of his neck for at least 10 seconds before he shakes it over at the whorl.

    I received a gift certificate for a local equine photographer and I'm looking forward to scheduling this fall. I'm having a 30-minute shoot outside under the gorgeous autumn foliage. I own only four colors of clothing: black, gray, denim, and burgundy... and my horse is a bright bay, which means that the whole burgundy hunt coat thing skipped me because, you know, it would clash. I might be branching out in the wardrobe department for this.

    When I've looked at other photo shoots, it looks like the uniform is jeans and a light neutral sweater. (Unless you're my sister, in which you wear a bright patterned sundress and cowboy boots, but she's always had style.) Is there a reason for this beyond it being a set of basic wardrobe staples- the way it looks in the light, contrast with the horse's color? If you've had these photos done, what did you wear?
    "I'm not always sarcastic. Sometimes I'm asleep." - Harry Dresden

    Black always goes well with a bay horse.

    You may add color with discrete accessories, gold ones generally.


      I’d wear dark jeans with a black or gray top. Or take both and change halfway through. Accessories whichever metal you prefer is fine. I’m partial to silver/white gold, not a gold fan and don’t own anything gold.


        The flowery/bohemian look appears to be (or maybe was, I could be behind the patest trends lol), but it really depends on your personal style.
        She's a regular on here so I hope she doesn't mind me linking her blog but she has great style and good tips:


          I think you should wear whatever you feel most comfortable and confident in. If your favorite outfit is black or grey, go for it. If it is jeans and a sweater, then wear that. If you feel amazing in your hunt coat, then wear it. If branching out wardrobe-wise would make you uncomfortable, then wear what makes you confident instead. (Just maybe avoid the burgundy if it clashes). If branching out makes you feel special for a day, then go for it!

          If you want to branch out a bit from your usual palette, then maybe look at what colors feel like fall. If you are most comfortable in black and grey and burgundy, then earth tones aren’t a stretch and they definitely go with the whole autumnal palette. Perhaps something in creams and tans and browns. You could also go with an accent color that plays off of earth tones nicely... like navy? I think navy always looks nice with a bay, and I like blues with earth tones. Another idea is to keep your top earth tones and go with something like skinny jeans and tall brown boots or jeans and brown cowboy boots. That screams “fall photo shoot” to me.

          I haven’t done horse portraits in ages (have been out of the horse world until recently), but my favorite ones were taken when I was wearing my favorite floral maxidress. I felt pretty, I felt relaxed and I felt like me... and luckily the palette really worked with my grey mare. Sadly the photos are long lost and I pray I stumble across them in a box one day... but the photos I loved best were the ones where I was wearing my favorite clothes and felt like my best self.

          Bottom line is you want to feel relaxed and confident and like yourself. Do you and have fun with it, and to heck with what everybody else wears.


            I thought you meant to showcase the bay horse, the human a prop in the picture.
            Maybe not?

            The photographer may have a portfolio you can access on the internet and you could look thru those pictures, see what you like.

            Maybe ask the photographer for ideas also.


              Original Poster

              Originally posted by Bluey View Post
              I thought you meant to showcase the bay horse, the human a prop in the picture.
              Maybe not?
              That's basically what I'm going for. I asked my sister this same question. She asked what kind of a look I was aiming for, and I said "the 'my horse is really handsome' look." I'd like to look like I deserve to be in the same room as such a good-looking fellow. He's 24 this year and I'd just like to have some nice photos with him.

              The last "portrait" anyone ever took of us was the attached- it was a total accident as I was holding Tip for my sister's high school graduation photos while she took photos on her own horse, and didn't realize the camera was aimed at me. The black jacket kind of looks like a black hole in this light, which is why I'm asking the question. (The sister graduated college a couple of years ago, so it's been a moment, but it's still a great picture.)
              Attached Files
              "I'm not always sarcastic. Sometimes I'm asleep." - Harry Dresden


                My most favorite portrait of my mare was taken at a dressage show. She was braided, had her fancy bridle on and you can't see much of me at all. She had her head turned and has the most lovely soft look in her eye.

                I am looking at it, neatly matted and framed, was we speak

                Oh, I have slipped the surly bonds of earth, And danced the skies on laughter-silvered wings; John Gilliespie Magee, Jr


                  I had a shoot in the spring. There was no way my boys were going to look anything other than scruffy at that time of year so I opted for informal interaction. I wore my Kerrits riding coat, jeans and blundstones. We managed to end up with a few really nice pics of the three of us.

                  Everyone else went for slightly dressy pics and formal portrait (sans human) pics.


                    I like the idea of jeans and a sweater or other top (long sleeve shirt, jacket) in a neutral or maybe a "fall" color. A dark forest green seems like it would go well with your horse's shade of bay.


                      As a photographer, I would suggest wearing blue jeans, your favorite boots or barn shoes, and a shirt or sweater in cream/beige, soft moss/forest green, a light corn/mustard yellow, or muted navy/indigo blue. You need some contrast between you and the horse and the background. I would not recommend wearing black or other really dark colors head to toe, unless your horse was a grey or light chestnut.

                      And we want to see the end results! Good luck with your shoot!
                      ~~ How do you catch a loose horse? Make a noise like a carrot! - British Cavalry joke ~~


                        A friend of mine did a photoshoot with my lease horse, my mother, and me last fall.
                        Listing out the outfits has made me wonder what we were thinking! But I think they turned out well!

                        Horse: Chestnut accessorized by fall fuzz that showed up overnight
                        Mom: navy breeches, black base layer, and bright orange vest (surprise cold snap)
                        Me: tan breeches, red sweater

                        We both wore gloves (see above, it was really quite brisk), which, in retrospect, was a bit of an odd choice, but I love the pictures. The sunset lighting + fall really helped.
                        Please excuse the random doggo/all of us looking in different directions - I picked a picture that is slightly less identifying than most of the others.


                          Wear something that feels comfortable & "You".
                          Years later, you don't want to look at a pic & think "What was I thinking?"
                          Agree with the photo pros here who say no black.

                          One of my fave pics of me & my TB - from our Show Hunter days - is B&W, him braided and foremost in the shot from his chest up, looking right into the camera, me in the saddle,wearing a B&W snowflake print sweater over my white ratcatcher, helmet on, leaning to pat his neck.

                          Wish I still had it, but it got tossed when my brother had to empty folks' house. Not blaming, I was 2K miles away.

                          Your "accidental" portrait is lovely.
                          If only your face was visible.....
                          *friend of bar.ka*RIP all my lovely boys, gone too soon:
                          Steppin' Out 1988-2004
                          Hey Vern! 1982-2009, Cash's Bay Threat 1994-2009
                          Sam(Jaybee Altair) 1994-2015


                            Originally posted by 4LeafCloverFarm View Post
                            and a shirt or sweater in cream/beige, soft moss/forest green, a light corn/mustard yellow
                            To each their own but, personally, I would never. I detest all of these colors, and for someone with my skin tone, absolutely not. I think it’s just as important to wear a flattering color for yourself as it is for it to be flattering to the horse.

                            OP, I have a friend who wore a black sweater for a fall shoot with her two dark dark bays. It came out beautiful, did not look like a “black hole” at all.

                            Wear what you like and are comfortable in.


                              Also consider how any color will look as a close up, just the horse's head and your upper body, others further away, the horse self standing and you by it, etc.

                              Whatever you wear may ought to fit no matter what the picture or angle, or maybe have a change with other choices of top and covering, a vest some times can look nice.

                              I remember, decades ago, a professional horse photographer came take pictures of our stallion for advertising purposes.
                              He brought his own fancy silver halters, in different sizes and leather colors.

                              My guess the photographer will have a list of requirements and ideas for you to go by.


                                I agree with dark jeans and a shirt/sweater in a subdued color. What colors do you tend to favor? You want to look like you too! So I would keep it muted to keep the focus on the horse, but not disappear. I love a rich blue or green with that color bay, but the color has to work for you too!

                                Also like the idea of having a jacket or other sweater to change into as well.


                                  As a photographer, neutral soft tones are best- if possible stay away from black or white (but esp black and white). And something that compliments and contrasts is always nice - horse is bay, you with light blue shirt or chestnut horse, you with sage green shirt etc
                                  No mourners, no funerals


                                    I will second the advice of the photographers above (as a photographer myself) and add some detail that might help.

                                    Black and white are hard on cameras because they throw off the color balance in the photo. It's not so much about contrasting (or matching) your horse as it is about making sure the photo has a good exposure and detail. Bright white will sometimes wash out detail, deep black will bury it. With either color, you make it harder on the photographer to make you look like anything but a block of color from neck to waist (broadly speaking) especially if the lighting outside is harsh--which it can be in the fall.

                                    Depending on the shade of your horse's coat, something like burgundy might work well. Though if he has a reddish cast, it might throw off the color balance as well--though that's easier to correct than blacks and whites. Neutrals are good because they won't throw things off, generally speaking. You could also try a marine blue or a deep green. I would avoid reds, yellows, and oranges in the fall--as they too might throw off the color when in a shot with leaves.


                                      I like this photographer's work. This link goes directly to the mini sessions/personal sessions, and several are publicly visible. Find one you like for overall feel and colors (pic a bay horse



                                        do not to forget the background color as OP was thinking the trees leaves would be coloring as I would think you would also want to contrast with that also.... rather than blend as if camouflaged